Walnut Beach Creamery expanding in Milford

Susan Patrick, owner of the Walnut Beach Creamery in Milford, right, a popular handcrafted ice cream shop, on May 2, 2021.

Susan Patrick, owner of the Walnut Beach Creamery in Milford, right, a popular handcrafted ice cream shop, on May 2, 2021.

Peter Hvizdak/Hearst Connecticut Media

MILFORD — Expansion of Walnut Beach Creamery will be complete for when the business opens its doors in April, according to owner Susan Patrick.

The creamery expansion was supposed to be completed in 2020, explained Patrick, but the pandemic forced her to put the work on hold.

"Anybody who's been inside the creamery will know that it's a tight space," Patrick said. "We had the window service, which helped us greatly during COVID. But anytime we have a large crowd, it's always packed in, and there's not a very good flow."

She said the previous tenant was moving and she seriously thought about expanding at that time but then COVID hit.

She rented it to the Bees Knees Cafe, which announced last month it would be closing at the spot it has held for three years and relocating. 

The expansion will help also increase the business' production capability and make it so they can sell there ice cream at more places, Patrick said.

"We are selling to restaurants on a minimal basis now, but with the expansion, we will have enough space to make ice cream to service the creamery plus any orders from restaurants plus orders for our mobile truck," she said. "Our walk-in freezer space is pretty tight and getting tighter, so this will allow us to have the ability to expand it if we feel like we need to." 

Patrick said she's heard from people who wanted to get ice cream, but left because the line was down the block.

"I think we've lost business from people that don't want to wait a long time for ice cream," she said. "People will wait a little bit, but not when the line is long. The way the store is configured now, it doesn't take much to fill the front of the store, so we always have a line going out the door."

When the creamery opens in April, people will walk through, walk around and walk out, explained Patrick.

"So it's not going to be such a log jam in the store," she said. "So I think it will help with the line and make it much more user-friendly."

Once they take over the extra area, Patrick said she will be able to add more freezer space, something they can't do now.

"We will also add some room for seating, maybe not a ton, but we will have some seating as well, which we never had before," she said.

Patrick said they are expanding the front area and making it more customer friendly first before considering the rest of the project.

"The idea is to have it all ready by the time we usually open at the end of April," she said. "That is our timeframe, but what I plan to do right now is reasonable. It's not really a big expansion. It's just taking down one wall and repositioning some stuff."

Patrick said they will have to wait until after the summer rush to make further decisions about the creamery expansion.

"June, July and August are our busiest months, and during the summer, we don't have much time to do anything other than servicing the creamery and making ice cream," she said. "So once we have the summer working with the new space, we can decide if we need to change things around a little bit. I like to do things gradually and see if they work out rather than doing something drastic."